The Colonial Brewing Co in Western Australia is considering changing its name following pressure from the Black Lives Matter movement.
The name has become an issue due to the use of the word ‘colonial’.
The potential change follows a long campaign by Melbourne journalist Shaad D’Souza, who accused the company of profiting by “creating nostalgia for a time when First Nations people were killed en masse”.
He had been calling on bottle shops to remove the brand from their shelves for around three years.
“I was just tired of going to parties or bottle shops and feeling unwelcome or belittled by seeing someone drink from a ‘trendy’ drink can that glorifies a time that, for my ancestors and a lot of others, meant suffering,” he told online publisher Broadsheet.
A Melbourne bottle shop has banned the beer and said the decision came after discussions with Colonial Brewing Co, customers, and staff.
“While we appreciate that the people behind Colonial Brewing had no malicious intent in their choice of brand name, words have power,” the owners said.
“We’ve had discussions with Colonial in the past with concerns about their name.”
The bottle shop will donate any profits from the remaining stock to Indigenous activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance.
Stress and Angst
The Margaret River-based brewery confirmed it was reviewing the name and acknowledged the “significant stress and angst surrounding the Black Lives Matter community”.
Colonial Brewing Co Managing director, Lawrence Dowd, said the name was not chosen to celebrate colonisation but because the company was one of the first of its kind to set up in WA’s premier wine region.
“We have had significant messages and comments regarding our name, we want you all to know: we hear you,” Mr Dowd said.
WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said while it was ultimately a matter for Colonial brewing, he did not think a name change was necessary.
“I don’t agree with that, I think that’s unnecessary, I think that might be taking it a bit far,” Mr McGowan said.
WA Indigenous Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, agreed and said he was surprised this had become an issue.
Is Colonial racist?
“I don’t think anybody has really looked at the name of that Colonial and seen it in any form of race way at all,” Mr Wyatt said.
Western Australia Indigenous tour operator Troy Bennell said discussions like this helped to spark a broader conversation about Aboriginal issues.
“To me, it is a name,” he said “But because everything happening at the moment, it’s getting people to talk a lot.”
Mr Bennell said it was difficult once a business was established to change the name, but suggested the company could consider dual naming.
The idea of dual naming has also been suggested for Australian streets and landmarks that reflect colonisation.
“You look at the old name but also you look at the new name,” Mr Bennell said.
“So you’re not forgetting about old clients and old customers and you’ve got new directions that you want to go to.”
Posted 16 JunJune 2020